Scientists have found fresh evidence to suggest Alzheimer’s could be spread through blood transfusions.
The controversial topic has been debated for years.
But now, in an unprecedented study, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada have shown that healthy who received blood from a mouse with Alzheimer’s plaques did indeed develop plaques of beta-amyloid protein in their blood.
The finding emerged from their study which also showed that Alzheimer’s could start in other parts of the body – like the liver or kidney – before traveling up to the brain like cancer.
For the first time ever, scientists have shown that healthy mice infected with blood from Alzheimer’s-suffering mice do develop the disease, implying the same could happen in humans (file image)
While we do not know exactly how Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, forms, we do not that it involves a protein in the blood called beta-amyloid.
This protein cumulates into plaques, which clog up the brains of affected humans and gradually cripple their cognitive function.
Mice do not naturally develop Alzheimer’s, so the team led by Weihong Song infected the lab mice with the human version of beta-amyloid, which does turn into the crippling brai disease.
This led to the mice developing plaques in their brains, and symptoms akin to those seen in human Alzheimer’s patients.
These Alzheimer’s infected mice were then surgically attached to healthy mice, making them share bloods, similar to a blood transfusion.
Within four months, the healthy mice had meta-amyloid plaques in their brains and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
‘The protein can get into the brain from a connected mouse and cause neurodegeneration,’ Professor Song said.
Song’s team also found evidence that Alzheimer’s disease can start anywhere in the body before traveling to the brain.
He found the toxic proteins that lead to the neurodegenerative illness can develop in the liver or even kidneys before invading grey matter.
The discovery could lead to drugs that target dementia in organs that are much easier to treat – years before the onset of symptoms.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, has long been assumed to originate in the brain.
But this new research indicates it could be started by breakdowns elsewhere.
The study published in Molecular Psychiatry offers hope of developing drugs that could stop or slow the disease without acting directly on the brain.